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meningitis & septicaemia can kill in hours!

People who are faced with meningitis and septicaemia have to act fast to help save a life.

Ollie Rooke

Meningococcal disease at 18

Meningococcal disease

It was coming up to the end of the Christmas holidays and I'd been ill with a cold since Boxing Day until just past New Year.

By Friday 4 January I felt well enough to go out for the night; however, later on I started feeling worse and worse. It started with me feeling cold even whilst in a warm room. I started shivering and feeling colder and colder, whilst my skin still felt quite hot. I also started to feel tired and generally slow, when I eventually got to bed I was still feeling shivery and quite spaced out. I didn't really sleep that night and I kept getting up to throw up. Despite not drinking a lot that night I convinced myself it was just the alcohol.

When I woke up I felt a lot worse and found it difficult to walk or move. I had a bad headache and just wanted to spend the day in bed, but my parents called NHS direct and made an appointment for me at the local hospital. As I went to get changed I realised a rash had showed up on my arms and as soon as I pointed this out to my mum she rushed me to the local A&E, thinking it could be meningitis.

At the hospital the doctors found that I had a high fever and very fast pulse rate, I was also dehydrated from throwing up, so they put me on fluids. At first the spots disappeared when you pressed on them but some of them started to change and not disappear, so the doctor decided to give me the first 24 hour dose of antibiotics for bacterial meningitis.

After this I was moved up onto the ward where my temperature and pulse rate started to improve and the consultant told me I definitely didn't have meningitis and it was probably glandular fever or just a nasty infection. He decided to put me on a new course of antibiotics for the next day (Sunday) and told me I'd probably be out by Monday.

On Monday morning, after seeing no doctors throughout the day on Sunday, a consultant came in to say that they were sure it was just a small infection and that I could go home with some antibiotics. However, 5 minutes later he rushed back in to say that the blood cultures had shown I had meningococcal septicaemia and that they would treat me with the antibiotics in hospital. After a week in hospital I was finally allowed home on the Friday after I’d first started feeling ill.

Whilst in hospital I’d lost a lot of weight and for weeks afterwards I found even the simplest activities, like walking up stairs, tiring. I also found it difficult to understand what I actually had, when reading other experiences I found it difficult to relate to all the other cases. Whilst almost every case I read, the person ended up in intensive care but I felt fine by the evening of the Saturday that I was admitted.

It’s scary to think how ill I could have been if I had done what I wanted to do all day, lie in bed and try to sleep. Luckily my parents caught it early, as soon as the rash showed up I was rushed to hospital and the emergency doctor gave me the initial antibiotics after being in for about 45 minutes. The one bit of advice I’d give to everyone is to know what to look out for, as soon as you see a rash go straight to A&E, don’t wait for it to get worse.

OLLIE ROOKE
FEBRUARY 2013

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